In previous posts, I defined Au Pair childcare, discussed its benefits, and cost. I also mentioned that the Au Pair childcare program is governed by the US Dept. of State. The criteria listed below is directly from the J-1 Visa, the working/education visa that legally allows an Au Pair to remain in the country (up to 2 years).
Host Family is required to:
- Pay up to $500 toward the cost of the au pair’s required academic course work;
- Provide an appropriate suitable private room and three meals a day for the au pair;
- Be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents fluent in spoken English;
- Pay a weekly minimum stipend based on the program option selected;
- Give the au pair one complete weekend off each month (Friday evening to Monday morning);
- Facilitate the care provider’s requirement to enroll in and attend an accredited post-secondary institution to fulfill her Educational Component requirement;
- Provide a minimum of two weeks paid vacation for each 12 month exchange term (prorated for extension periods of six or nine months), in addition to regular weekly/monthly time off;
- Include the Au Pair whenever possible in family meals, outings, holidays and other events
- Host families and Au Pairs must sign an agreement detailing the au pair’s obligation to provide child care prior to the Au Pair’s placement in the host family’s home. In the event of questions regarding refunds or other adjustments, host families and au pairs should refer to their agreements. The Department of State does not have jurisdiction over contractual obligations.
Host Families are not required to provide an Au Pair with transportation (vehicle). However, the host family is required to provide vehicle insurance if the Au Pair is to drive family vehicle (work or otherwise). Gas stipend or other stipends beyond the minimal stipend of 195.75 weekly are not required. Some families chose to pay more than minimum stipend to Au Pair or provide Au Pair with gas stipend for work related travel. In addition, Host Families are not required to provide an Au Pair with their own bathroom. Some families include their Au Pair on their gym memberships, pool memberships, etc. but this is not a requirement. An Au Pair cannot expect to receive stipends above the minimum.
Au Pair is required to:
- Be proficient in spoken English;
- Be a secondary school graduate or equivalent; and
- Be between 18-and-26-years-old.
- Be capable of fully participating in the program as evidenced by the satisfactory completion of a physical.
- Be personally interviewed, in English, by an organizational representative who shall prepare a report of the interview which shall be provided to the host family; and
- Be successful in passing a background investigation that includes verification of school, three, non-family related personal and employment references, a criminal background check or its recognized equivalent and a personality profile. Such personality profile will be based upon a psychometric test designed to measure differences in characteristics among applicants against those characteristics considered most important to successfully participate in the au pair program.
- Reside within the Host Family’s home and may not be employed by any other individual or party other than the Host family.
- Receive minimum of 32 hours childcare training before starting position
- Provide up to 10 hours/day and 45 hours week of childcare
- Complete at least six hours of academic credit or equivalent in formal educational settings at an accredited U.S. post-secondary educational institution. (Host Family provide $500 towards education cost per year employed).
- Screen and select both host families and Au Pairs as program participants according to selection criteria stated in the regulations;
- Provide Au Pairs with training in child development and child safety prior to their placement with a host family; and
- Provide an orientation upon arrival in the United States that includes comprehensive information on life in the United States
- Be transparent about fees, housing, representations and disclosures and provide an itemized list of all fees to be paid and a description of other costs that an Au Pair will likely incur while in the United States
- Monitor Au Pair participation throughout the program, including the physical location, progress, and welfare of the au pair
- File a program-specific management review to the Department of State, so that the Department can regularly review internal controls and program compliance
- Ensure that all aspects of J-1 Visa are met by both Au Pair and Host Family
In the event where an Au Pair feels that she is not being treated fairly according to the regulations outlined by the Department of State, she should contact her LCC or program director.
Infractions of the J-1 Visa that would result in revoking current visa or non-reinstating a future visa (I did not list every “crime”).
- Willful and knowing failure to comply with program insurance requirements
- Unauthorized employment (receiving payment for service/work from another individual or party other than Host Family.
- Involuntary suspension or termination from the exchange visitor program (not completing education requirements; crimes such as driving under influence, underage drinking, assault and battery, drug offenses, etc.)
- Failure to pay appropriate Federal and State Income taxes